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Full text of "Rapid Population Growth Consequences And Policy Implications"

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Low Death Rates and High Fertility
Since World War II, the "second population explosion" has occurred in Asia, Latin America, and Africa-the "less developed" or "developing" areas of the world. Although some parts of these regions had experienced declines in mortality before World War II, most of this two thirds of mankind were not exposed to the techniques of "death control" until the postwar period. Since the end of World War II, the death rate in the developing nations has been falling much more rapidly than was ever the case in the industrialized nations of the West. In the economically advanced nations, the means by which the death rate was decreased were developed gradually over the modem era; then they became available to the less developed nations all at once. Ships anchored off Bombay, Rio de Janeiro, or Dakar could carry in their holds all of the material means of reducing mortality which western nations acquired only after 3 centuries of experience and effort. Moreover, the United Nations and the specialized agencies, especially the World Health Organization, have sponsored programs for reducing death rates, including economic development programs and the dissemination of chemotherapy and pesticides.
Longevity, then, is increasing much more rapidly in the less developed areas than it did among Europeans and populations of European stock because of the much more powerful means now available for eliminating the causes of death. For example, the death rate of the Moslem population in Algeria in 1946-47 was higher than that of Sweden in 1771-80, more than a century and a half earlier. Eight years later, by 1955, the decrease in the death rate in Algeria was greater than that which Sweden experienced during the century from 1775 to 1875. Between 1940 and 1960, Mexico, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Ceylon, Malaya, and Singapore were among the nations that decreased their death rates by more than 50 percent. Ceylon's death rate was decreased by more than 50 percent in less than a decade.
While death rates fell sharply in the developing areas, birth rates remained at high levels and some may well have increased. Whereas today the economically advanced areas are characterized by low death rates and relatively low birth rates (mainly between 17 and 23 per 1,000 persons per year), most of the developing regions have birth rates above 40. With either high death rates or low birth rates as a check, the industrialized nations in their entire history have rarely exceeded a growth rate of 1 percent per annum without immigration. Annual growth rates in the developing nations are above 2 percentómany above 3 percent. A 3 percent growth rate doubles a population in 23 years. Since the developing nations contain over two thirds of the world's population, the growth rate of the world as a whole is accelerating despite the historical fertility decline in the developed nations. Among the nonwestern nations of appreciable size, only in Japan has the birth rate